Washoe's Legacy: A Cross-Species Connection

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    Embed <iframe src="http://www.npr.org/player/embed/15917084/15917073" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no">
  • Transcript

Washoe, claimed to be the first chimpanzee to learn sign language, died this week. Her reputation was well-known, but many scientists are still skeptical that Washoe actually learned to "talk." Washoe was born in West Africa in 1965.

As an infant, she was captured and sold to the U.S. military, which used chimpanzees for medical experiments. But two scientists, Allen and Beatrix Gardner, took Washoe home with them to Reno, Nevada. And for several years, they and a small team of helpers lived with Washoe, played with Washoe — and talked to Washoe, using American Sign Language.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.